Abstract

Overcrowded forests have allowed several catastrophic wildfires to burn in Colorado. Many of these fires have received national attention and inspired large public expenditures into community wildfire mitigation projects. Forestry projects in Colorado have shifted away from traditional logging and toward service-type projects, such as forest thinning and defensible space, and Colorado's forestry contractors are essential in realizing forest management objectives in the state. Many southeastern and northeastern states conduct regular surveys of forestry contractors to better understand their attributes and ability to adapt to changing conditions. This article presents results of a Colorado forestry contractor survey conducted in 2014. Objectives of this survey were to gain statistical information about the contractors, establish a baseline for future surveys, and determine the capacity of the workforce to address the state's forest health issues. The survey revealed a diminished workforce that has struggled to find identity following policy changes and economic events of the 21st century. This survey also revealed that with the current contractor capacity, Colorado will be unable to face the many threats to forest health and prevent catastrophic wildfire.

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